Written by Kosoma Kim
5 years ago I have first known Sovan because of her great energy in volunteerism and leadership. Last week, I had an opportunity to sit down and talk with her; she still keeps impressing me about her great passion for making a difference in Cambodia. Sovan Srun is now CEO and Co-founder of Edemy. Below are the 7 questions I was interviewing Sovann about her journey in becoming a woman social entrepreneur in Education Technology.
Q1: WHAT IS Edemy?
Sovan: Edemy first has been started-up as a blending learning program using Raspberry Pi technology that aims to bring quality and integral English education to people who need it by taking down the barriers of affordability and environment constraints. In the past years, Edemy has been enlarged themselves more into EdTech sector in Cambodia by providing a learning management system, converting paper-based content into online. Recently, we have launched a new mobile application, Tesdopi, a STEM mastery learning app for high school students.
Sovan Srun and her Edemy team joined the sharing session at SmartLabs at Zaman University. Photo by Heng Sok
Q2: WHAT MAKE Edemy UNIQUE?
Sovan: EdTech is very new in Cambodia, and we are proud to be one among the top. Not just only being able to build a smooth online platform from tech side, we are also the educators who strongly believe in the potential of technology in driving for the differences in Cambodia. From the perspective of educators rather than techies, we prioritize education. We understand well the completed cycle of learning, then we use tech to enhance the learning cycle to be more efficient; so the student can learn and strategies their learning accordingly based on their preferences. Lastly, at Edemy we recruit young talented Cambodian to join us to build our own contents that matter to the need of Cambodian people.
Tesdopi, a new initiative of Edemy. Tesdopi is a STEM mastery learning app for high school students.
Q3: WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START Edemy?
Sovan: The inspiration has started when my other co-founders and I were at university. Apart from university, we have been volunteering in running a lot of youth programs. Throughout our experiences in working with youth, especially those who have been moving to Phnom Penh to continue their studies at the university, we learn to understand the lack of understanding English is their main challenge and barrier in getting access to the new innovations, information and updates in the world outside of Cambodia; for example, the challenge in getting an abroad scholarship or join the global movement. Cambodian style of learning is traditional and inefficient, and if we keep learning this way; I am afraid that we are going be slower and slower compared to the global trend that full of innovations and changes in every second.
These experiences make us passionate about making difference in the education sector in Cambodia. I personally believe that If we want a sustainable development in Cambodia, we really need a free a powerful educational system to build a strong and resilient human resource.
Sovan Srun, Co-founder of Edemy, in EPIC Incubator Program with Impact Hub Phnom Penh and Development Innovations
Q4: WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES IN STARTING Edemy in Cambodia?
Sovan: Let’s me say in general; all startup has almost the same challenges! Personally, I think dealing with challenges mostly require your ability to stay focus; the attention you have put in will allow you to understand the root cause of the problem better. Sometimes, you get rid of the challenges without you even know it. Regarding the financial challenges, I would say you have to do everything you can to keep your organization financially strong; same as the mental challenges; you have to know the effective way to deal with it. And if you get stuck in the operation, I would suggest to look at the end goals and break it down into small milestones; it will give you an easy path and a motivation to feel your move every day closer to your mini-goal that lead to a big achievement.
Edemy team are on the stage of Demo Day of Epic Incubator Program.
Q5: WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE IN THE FUTURE OF EdTech IN CAMBODIA?
Sovan: Edemy is ready for the Personalised Learning – the future learning in Cambodia. Past education is not relevant to Cambodia learning anymore. We believe that tech will enable Personalised Learning where everyone has their own path of learning and enable leaner to be more creative. For example, some people might take a longer time to learn something that another or they might have different methods of learning based on their personalities. Time is not a measurement of the learning anymore, but the efficiency of learning that is matter. Because of the rapid growth of technology in Cambodia in the past years; it gives us time to start it now.
Q6: IN THE FIRST PLACE, WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BE A SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR?
Sovan: With plenty of my experiences in volunteerism in Cambodia, It had been inspired me to work for NGO until I got selected to join one exchange program in the US. to learn about Entrepreneurship where I understood the importance of the private sector in driving the development in one country.
After coming from the US, I have interned in one local social enterprise in market research where I learnt about a business model with social contribution. This gave me a great inspiration to continue my master degree in US later in Social Entrepreneurship.
Just a development alone is not enough, I think we need sustainability going along with development.
Q7: WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE INTERESTING IN BECOMING A SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR?
Sovan: Look back to my university life; I strongly encourage young people to start something even a small business idea or project. Don’t try to find any excuses to wait until you are graduate to do all of these. Remember to always follow small steps to grow big! By starting doing something, you are not only learning how things work or expand your network, but you allow your inner-self to feel it; and I am sure one day you will discover something that you like; something that you are passionate about; something that you can not stop thinking about; and when you found it; you know you are ready to make a big difference.
Sovan Srun pitching Edemy at UK Embassy